ROCKINGHAM — Two of Richmond County’s law enforcement agencies are holding events to safely dispose of medications.
Both the Rockingham Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office are participating in Operation Medicine Drop, providing locations to drop off unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
The sheriff’s office event will be Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. at G104 FM on Airport Road, while the RPD will be collecting at Medical Center Pharmacy on Long Drive from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Operation Medicine Drop is a collaborative effort — spearheaded by the N.C. Department of Insurance — to “reduce the number of accidental poisonings, curb drug abuse and protect our waters from pharmaceutical contamination,” according to a brochure from Safe Kids North Carolina, another partner in the program.
“It’s a good thing,” Greg Marks, pharmacy manager, told the Daily Journal in 2014. “It takes back all the medicine you want to get rid of without dumping in it in the water supply.”
Marks said the program is a great way to take the medications out of circulation so they don’t get stolen or taken by children and helps prevent abuse and poisoning.
“You certainly don’t want your grandchildren or children getting ahold of them,” he said.
More than 100,000 pills have been collected in the previous three years. The total of 62,342 pills from 2014 included more than 4,100 controlled substances such as Xanax, hydrocodone and oxycodone.
“We get all kinds of stuff,” he said in 2014, as a Rockingham officer went through a box containing aspirin, a stool softener, St. John’s Wort, eye drops and ointments. “They clean out their medicine cabinets, bring it here and start over. It’s been fairly successful.”
For those who can’t make it to either event, there are drop boxes at the sheriff’s office and the Rockingham and Hamlet police departments.
Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. previously told the Daily Journal that the pill drop program is very important in “keeping those medicines off the street,” adding that prescriptions are “the most abused drug out there.”
“We don’t have a specific day,” he said. “Our service is available 24-7.”
Clemmons encourages residents to make use of the drop boxes instead of flushing medications down the toilet and into the municipal water system.